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TheDesignAir is pleased to announce the 2017 Award winners as voted for by our esteemed judging panel and our readers. This year has seen a wave of improvements around the world in the field of passenger experience. From impressive new aircraft, new First Class Suites to the smallest details found in tableware and amenity kits.

This year, like each year since we started the awards in 2012, we are proud to celebrate the very best developments in design and product within the industry. We would like to thank everyone for their input in these awards.

Judges’ Choice Awards

Winner Best New Uniform 2017
Hainan Airlines


Hainan Airlines’ new uniform impressed the judges this year for combining style and elegance with practicality and futuristic fabrics. Hainan Airlines beat the competition with this stunning collection which is truly identifiable in the airport environment, going beyond the usual realm of corporate uniform design. The overall look, along with the effortlessly elegant cheongsam, wouldn’t be amiss on the catwalks of couture week, which it just happens, is where the uniform was revealed earlier this year. 

Winner Best New Lounge 2017
Hong Kong Airlines Club Autus Lounge, Hong Kong International

商務旅客休閒區 Business Zone Resting Area

This new lounge for Hong Kong Airlines was well received for its clever use of space, local design touches and modern approach to zonal seating. Club Autus, with its custom furnishings and bespoke calligraphy, showcases the airline’s design-centric approach to the passenger experience and lavish attention to detail. The lounge’s designer Phill Cheng has managed to combine a wealth of natural materials to make the space feel homely, warm and contemporary.

Winner Best New First Class 2017
Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites


Singapore Airlines’ new A380 First Class Suites may have similarities to the Etihad A380 First Class Suites, but they have elevated the airline’s customer experience while remaining true to the carrier’s iconic luxurious design aesthetic. With beautiful elements such as double beds, large reclining chairs, leather-lined amenity boxes and mood lighting, Pierrejean Design Studio and Zodiac Seats have managed to create a true game-changer in the industry. These will be some of the hottest tickets to buy in 2018.

Winner Best New Business Class 2017
Qatar Airways, QSuite Business Class


Unlike Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways have put their money purely behind their new QSuite business class product currently flying on the 777 and soon on their A350-1000’s The result is a phenomenal and truly unique product. Combining the best of other leading business class seats on the market, Qatar Airways have managed to create a signature product that in many ways is superior to every other flying in the skies. With high walls for privacy, large IFE screens and oversized seats that turn into long comfortable beds, its easy to feel like the flight isn’t nearly long enough.

Winner Best New Premium Economy Class 2017
Qantas, 787-9


March 2018 sees the launch of Qantas’ much anticipated ultra-long haul 787-9 flight between Perth and London. While the seats are 10% wider than the current Premium Economy seat and offer 25% larger IFE screen the Thompson Aero seat, customised by David Caon offers a revolutionary seat pan tilt that cradles the passenger on long haul flights to increase comfort. Other elements including large pillows, increased dining tables and personal reading lamps add little extra comforts that go a long way, on a long flight.

Winner Best New Livery 2017
Hawaiian Airlines

HA A321neo takeoff

Hawaiian Airlines’ updated livery has impressed the judges this year. Instead of completely redesigning the livery, look and feel of the carrier in 2017, the airline has pushed the design further, adding a silver lei around the fuselage and updating the logotype and added detail to the Pualani tail fin. This distinctly Hawaiian looking design has celebrated the origins of the carrier and reaffirmed its position as one of the most recognisable aircraft in the airports they fly to.

Winner Most Improved Airline Brand 2017


Few airlines have introduced so many new elements to their inflight experience this year, this is one of the reasons why Delta has been awarded TheDesignAir’s Most Improved Airline Brand. With the arrival of the A350, its new Delta One private suites with individual doors, international Premium Economy cabin, Alessi tableware and uniforms by Zac Posen there are multiple reasons to crown Delta as most improved brand in 2017. The airline is taking a design-centric approach to the passenger experience, challenging passenger expectations and delivering a product that is pushing Delta forward not only in the North American market, but the international stage.

Readers’ Choice Awards

Winner Best Design Airline Europe 2017


Finnair well deserves its position as Best Design Airline Europe 2017. With a superbly fresh and modern design aesthetic, the carrier has managed to take a monochromatic palette and inject colour and pattern through their long-standing partnership with Finnish design studio Marimekko. We applaud the carrier for carving a niche as a true design airline in Europe and leading the way with a coherent design experience both on the ground and in flight.

Winner Best Design Airline Australasia 2017
China Airlines

CAL Business Cabin 3

Scoring higher than the other airlines in Australasia, China Airlines has once again been awarded for its innovative approach to designing the passenger experience. The airline has adopted a bold design aesthetic with persimmon woodgrain, dragon-claw lamps and their onboard SkyLounge, all creating a truly unique and identifiable inflight experience. No stranger to our awards, titled best new Business Class last year, the airline is still creating waves in the airline industry.

Winner Best Design Airline Middle East & Africa 2017

Etihad Lounge

Etihad’s investment into designing a unique passenger experience a few years ago is still paying dividends, with public opinion crowning the carrier once again this year as the leading design led carrier in the Middle East and Africa. While other airlines are playing catch-up, Etihad has maintained its position as a world-class design led airline. New global lounges match the look and feel of the residential designs found on the A380 and growing 787 fleet. With a new Abu Dhabi terminal still on the horizon and penned to open end of 2019, this will help usher in a new era for the carrier.

Winner Best Design Airline North America 2017


Delta, who also won Most Improved Airline Brand 2017 has shot straight to the top this year in North America. The airline who really has created a strong vision for their brand image, has delivered a range of touch-points – including the Impressive Delta One Suite – that cements its win as Best Design Airline North America 2017. The public vote matches our own beliefs that the carrier is leading a design-centric approach to customer experience.

Winner Best Design Airline South America 2017


LATAM has worked hard in combining two carriers with two different identities this year, and the growth in the carrier showcases that even in a turbulent market, the airline is succeeding. With a range of residential-style lounges, improved aircraft interiors, strong visual identity and new inflight catering options, passenger perception is that of a design-led carrier with a truly international appeal.

Winner Best Design Airline 2017


Etihad has been voted the Best Design Airline of 2017, with good reason. The carrier has elevated the airline industry through an injection of attention to detail surrounding the passenger journey. In many ways, they have trail-blazed a unique approach to the inflight experience, taking residential cues and transforming them for the airline industry. The airline has looked at the aircraft interior from the ground up, and designed everything from galleys to light fixtures. Winning so many accolades over the last few years, this truly remarkable airline is still proving hard to beat.


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Posted by:Jonny Clark

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